Robertson Co. Residents Speak Out Against Coal Plants

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Toni Harrison

“Make these plants as clean as they can be, don’t rush through dirty plants that will affect our lives and our health for generations,” said Robin Schneider, Texas Campaign for the Environment.

Schneider and about a dozen volunteers spent Saturday in Hearne, for a “walk and talk.” Together they combed neighborhoods, knocking on doors, asking residents for signatures in opposition of the county’s proposed coal plants.

“These coal plants are going to dramatically affect (us) with all kinds of air pollution and water pollution from the mercury,” said Schneider.

There are two proposed coal plants for Robertson County. One would be run by Dallas-based TXU the other by Albuquerque-based PNM Resources. Supporters say the plants will bring more jobs to the area. Robertson County resident Paul Rolke represents a group called Our Land Our Lives. He agrees more jobs are needed, but not for what he believes is a sacrifice of good air quality.

“People need jobs around here desperately and we certainly need electricity, but we also need to do it in an appropriate and balanced way,” said Rolke.

Volunteers came from Austin and Dallas to help the Robertson County group with their cause. But they say they’re not against the coal plant, they just want it to burn clean air.

“Our preferred solution would be for them to use coal gasification, what’s called IGCC. It would cost them a little more to do the gasification project but it would make a significant difference in the quality of air,” said Rolke.

The corporations behind the plants say both facility’s will meet the state’s environmental requirements and there would only be a slight increase in air toxins. But these clean air advocates aren’t convinced, so they plan to continue their fight, one signature at a time.